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Where to fill your free time in Chiangmai

MOST VISITORS TO CHIANG MAI don't have a problem when it comes to filling those holiday hours – they always seem to go too fast! However, for those first time visitors and those who would like a memory refresher, here are some suggestions for a variety of outdoor activities which cover many interests.

Chiang Mai has a choice of five challenging golf courses. There is the Royal Chiang Mai Club, Green Valley Club, Lanna Golf, the Gassan Golf & Spa and the Gymkhana Club for golfing enthusiasts. Equipment, trolleys, caddies and refreshments are available at these courses and visitors are warmly welcome.

If you would like to cool off, maybe a Swimming Pool would be the answer. Both the Top North Hotel and The Amari Rincome Hotel welcome "outside" guests to use pool and after enjoy the lovely garden settings to have a poolside drink. If you enjoy a peaceful, country setting for an Outdoor Massage with herbal teas and good health advice, then Tao Garden Health Resort & Spa, at Doi Saket, is the place to be. The muslin walled massage areas sit over a lake for cool breezes.

Chiang Mai Zoo is a delight in which to wander around. A visit to the Panda Bears is a must while the Penguin Aquarium gives a welcome feeling of coolness. Chiang Mai Zoo is on the lower slopes of Doi Suthep at the top of Huay Kaew Road.

A thrilling way to view Chiang Mai and surrounds is to take a Microlight Flight over the city. For breathtaking pleasure, and a photographer's golden opportunity, this is certainly something. Flights take off from the Doi Saket area (just follow the signs.) Taking to the air from a different aspect is what Bungy Jumping is all about. A Bungy Jump venue, managed to A.J. Hackett's New Zealand standards, is located in the Mae Rim area.

Rock Climbing enthusiasts, or "wannabees", are catered to at The Peak Climbing Wall near the Night Bazaar. Each and every climber is harnessed to a ground "handler" for absolute safety. The Peak also operates, under floodlights, during nighttime hours.

Two Shooting Ranges to maintain your marksman skills. One is situated close to Rajamangala Park (near Chang Puak Police Station) and, in the same area, Horse Racing (seasonal) is held on Saturdays. The other shooting range is at the 700 Year Stadium.

Horse Riding can be enjoyed at the Thai Army Cavalry base on Mae Rim Road. The stables are open Saturday and Sunday evenings from 4.00 pm .Opposite the Green Valley Golf Course is a newly opened Archery Range managed by a British/Thai team. A more unusual experience is Elephant Riding which can be undertaken at a variety of Elephant Camps. Under the guidance of an experience Mahout (who guides the elephant), this soft-adventure takes visitors along jungle tracks and mountain streams. Perched high in a howdah on the elephant's back, this is a non-strenuous way to see something of nature. A little bit more strenuous, but just as much fun, is to join the Mountain Biking program. Depending upon how active you want to be, (you can choose to ride only downhill) and many various routes are offered around the slopes of Doi Suthep. Equipment (mountain bike, helmet, etc) are provided by the tour operator and the guide ensures each participant's pleasure and safety along the remote paths with Chiang Mai Mountain Biking.

A bit faster in pace is Go-Karting and you can rev-up your adrenaline at the specially designed, 600 meter go-karting track on the Hang Dong Road. Speaking of thrills, if X Sports are your idea of fun, Chiang Mai now has a X-Sport area to enjoy skateboarding and trick biking at the RC X-Sport Games and Amusement park on Huay Kaew Road

Very new to the exercise scene in Chiang Mai is canoeing and kayaking on the Mae Ping River. The boating enthusiasts are seen on the river every evening from about 5 pm onward. The canoes and kayaks can be rented at the garden park in front of the Gawila Barracks on Lamphun Road.

A great escape from the heat is to enjoy a few games of bowling. Chiang Mai has three places for bowling. Recently opened for plenty of fun are: UFO Bowling, Lamphun Road behind Mae Ping Police Station' Chiang Mai Bowling at 205 Sriphoom Road and Bully Bowl, spread over two floors at the Kad Suan Kaew Complex on Huay Kaew Road

Those who would like to keep up their computer game skills can enjoy hundreds of games at the completely air conditioned Pantip Plaza, The Computer City located on Changklan Road. The monitors are large taking you inside the game. Plenty of computers to choose from and comfortable seats. Order Mexican and Japanese snacks when the hungries attack.

For "do nothing" relaxation and a bit of People Watching, try an hour enjoying the fountains and flowers at Buag Haag City Park. Park benches and shady trees provide a nice venue to simply watch the world go by. Another outdoor relaxation, for the evening, is to visit the Kalare Food Centre in the Night Bazaar area, or Changklan Plaza near the Empress Hotel where visitors can watch Thai Classical Dance & Musicians while sampling Thai fast foods or having a drink.

When enjoying the ambiance of Chiang Mai, no visitor should be at a loss for something to do .Read the Around Town with Marji column for concert and local fair dates. Have fun while enjoying some of the Great Outdoors in Chiang Mai.

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